Cedric Barsoumian: 'Certainty is a big word in such an unstable market'
Posted on 2022 Mar,14

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Lebanon has had very difficult years, following the Beirut port blast, the many lockdowns and an economic crisis that keeps worsening. ArabAd caught up with Cedric Barsoumian, PM/PMX Publicis Media, to understand how the agency has managed to thrive throughout such a tumultuous time.

How would you describe in one word the year that past? 

It was obviously a challenging year on all levels and our industry has suffered a lot amidst the economic, political and Covid repercussions.  


Were you able to find certainty despite all hardships and adversity crippling businesses in the country? 

On the local front and with the absence of advertisers, especially the MNCs, we’re struggling as much as any other business in the country. Fortunately our operation expands to other Levant countries and we’re continuously building teams to serve our clients in GCC. Certainty is a big word in such an unstable market however, we remain confident that this is a temporary situation and hoping the market starts recovering in 2022. 


Did you feel at risk at some point of getting pulled out of the game? And what helped you reinforce your team’s belief in Lebanon and strong commitment and dedication to sustaining the business? 

As a regional office working with clients in GCC and Levant, we managed to stay in the game and avoid direct threat to our operation; however, we also suffered from talents wanting to relocate to our GCC offices and finding new talent is becoming challenging with people wanting to leave the country and find opportunities abroad.


How have you managed to channel your energy into keeping up?  

It was a very challenging year trying to keep up with everything despite the troubling environment. We’ve suffered from the Beirut port explosion and our offices were completely damaged. The company has been very supportive of its employees providing the needed support on all fronts as we’ve been working from home since then until our new offices become ready. 

Meanwhile we’ve also secured a space for all employees facing electricity and internet issues. Publicis Media has also provided mental support with weekly forums helping people to connect and discuss the challenges they’re facing.


What has been the most important thing you’ve learned over the last 12 months? 

Although we had a flawless operation during this very long WFH but the lesson I learned is that the actual workplace has a lot of advantages, which cannot be compensated through video calls. The coffee breaks, the lunch conversations and the exposure to the challenges facing different teams is a crucial part of the learning journey for each employee.


Has your passion and energy remained intact in such a gloomy climate? 

Working from home may seem very appealing however, sometimes you lose the sense of time and find yourself working long hours and on weekends repeatedly. This is where I tried to have the right balance to tend to my mental and physical well being.             


The Lebanese crisis —and the global sanitary crisis —have challenged managers and marketers to rethink the way they do business and plan the future of their organizations. Where the biggest opportunities lay mostly for you? 

As mentioned, the main objective is to build our regional teams further and expand our portfolio from already existing PM clients or acquiring new clients. Without a doubt Digital has played a big role in the past couple of years and was significantly accelerated by the pandemic. Clients who were already digitally-enabled found it very easy to overcome the tech hurdles and have greatly benefited from the surge in digital consumption while clients who still had a doubt about the digital word found it more difficult, as they became under pressure to build their digital platforms and be ready for the e-commerce  world.


What are the shifts that you foresee taking place in the year ahead? And what do you think will be your biggest challenge in 2022? 

I expect that the coming couple of years will be the most challenging while the local market tries to recover. The challenge would be to further expand our handling of regional duties and find new revenue generating opportunities.